Help needed for hamper appeal

Heather Whyman, Chief Executive Officer for Cleveland Fire Support Network and Fire Support Network volunteer worker Pete Gugan pictured with students(left to right) Danielle Thompson, Jordan Markwell and Chelsea Jack.
Heather Whyman, Chief Executive Officer for Cleveland Fire Support Network and Fire Support Network volunteer worker Pete Gugan pictured with students(left to right) Danielle Thompson, Jordan Markwell and Chelsea Jack.
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A CHARITABLE support service that works with victims of fires is making a festive appeal.

Cleveland Fire Support Network (CFSN) is hoping to make up hampers in readiness for any needy families struck by fire over the coming weeks.

Volunteers hope the community will show some early seasonal goodwill and help donate items or money that can be used to buy provisions.

The network offers practical help to victims of fire victims through its After Fire Service which ranges from comforting and counselling through to providing new furniture.

Families and individuals are asked what would be on their “wish list”, which can include new furniture, electrical appliances, bedding and even soft toys and books for children.

Now it is asking for the community to help it to help those who will invariably become victims of house fires over the weeks to come.

CFSN was formed in June 2007 and is now a registered charity with a string of volunteers from all walks of life. The network relies on donations, fundraising and the help of volunteers.

They work in the community alongside Cleveland Fire Brigade personnel including operational fire fighters and regularly visit schools, colleges and businesses offering invaluable advice.

One of their latest initiatives was a volunteering advice session at Brierton Community Sports Centre in Hartlepool.

CFSN chief executive Heather Whyman and volunteer Peter Gugan, 50, who has been with the network for three years, visited Brierton Community Sports Centre, in Hartlepool, to talk to youngsters about the benefits of volunteering.

Ms Whyman said: “Domestic fires can be the most harrowing and distressing incidents people can experience.

“Every single fire is traumatic but over the festive period the impact can be totally devastating leaving families traumatised and at worst homeless.

“Victims often have nowhere to turn and whatever goods we can collect to make up hampers could make all of the difference to them.

“It is not just the practical side of the service that makes a difference but also the emotional side as it can be a huge boost for victims to know that other people are thinking about them.”

CFSN volunteers are also involved in a number of initiatives including the Heart Start programme, a free course which is a two-hour training session on basic first aid and CPR, run in partnership with Cleveland Fire Brigade and the British Heart Foundation.

The network also carries out a wide range of home safety measures including fitting free fire alarms.

It also fits sensory alarms to the hearing impaired community working with audiology departments, social services, housing providers, and various groups throughout the region. It has also just completed one pioneering project to fit safety equipment into properties of some with young children under the age of five years by working in partnership with RoSPA and Sure Start projects.

The network was given £2,000 at the recent Hartlepool Mail Best of Health Awards in recognition of the valuable work it carries out. It was nominated as a beneficiary of the awards evening in June and a raffle raised more than £800 with the remainder made up by the Mail to recognise the work the network has done with fire victims in the Hartlepool area.

Anyone interested in donating or helping with the network’s Christmas hamper appeal should ring (01642) 288009 or visit www.clevelandfsn.org.

You can also contact paul.watson@northeast-press.co.uk.